Another tumultuous week in the world of for-profit higher education draws to a close.
The hue and cry raised against recently passed "gainful employment" legislation continues undiminished. A July 12, 2011 National Review Online article adds its two cents. "Sadly, the Department of Education has targeted for-profits colleges," the article states. "Its so-called 'gainful employment' rule seeks to undercut for-profit colleges and stack the deck in favor of traditional four-year schools." Tilting the playing field in this manner will make career college students the ultimate losers, which is unfortunate, considering that many of them cannot afford to attend nonprofit state and private colleges or find the way barred to them because of admissions standards.
But all the Sturm und Drang has done little to dampen optimism in the investment world. A July 14, 2011 Seeking Alpha article presents "a proprietary analysis that leads us to conclude that the negative thesis on for-profit education may have run its course. The industry appears well-positioned to outperform the broader market from this point forward."
Affecting investor perception, the Seeking Alpha article reports, was all the bad press surrounding "gainful employment" legislative debate. This pessimism bred inordinately low expectations in terms of future stock performance. When the for-profit higher-education sector and its lobbyists prevailed in getting the regs watered down, however, investor sentiment reversed nearly as dramatically. The for-profits have gotten over the hump, and it's a safe road from here on out.
Indeed, college costs are on every students' mind. A July 14, 2011 Business Insider article reports, "The 'MetLife Survey of the American Teacher' recently discovered that more high school students worry about financing their education than about actually getting into college or even being successful at college."
One factor in this mounting anxiety is credit incomprehension. Students find themselves bewildered when it comes to borrowing.
The culprit may be a rectangular piece of plastic: The Credit Card. According to U.S. Federal Reserve data, 43% of students own credit cards in high school and 73% of those who don’t will own one will by the time they are in their fourth or fifth year of college. Also, 25% of students use their credit cards to pay for tuition when paying for college. Within several months, 41% of these students will carry a debt balance.
Measures have fortunately been implemented to dispel some the confusion plaguing higher-ed aspirants. A July 15, 2011 Tampa Bay Online article brings word that "[t]he U.S. Department of Education has launched a website showing colleges and universities by their cost of tuition and fees."
This no doubt comes as welcome news to many bewildered teens and parents, who will now be able to do far more advanced planning when it comes to financing college. "The government's College Affordability and Transparency site enables users to search the highest, lowest and fastest-rising costs at four- and two-year public and private schools. Private schools are divided into nonprofit and for profit."
All the news this week ought to impress on students and their parents how absolutely critical it is to be a savvy education consumer these days. Whether the intended course of study is visual communication or law enforcement and investigation, "Caveat emptor" ("Buyer beware") remains the watchword in these freewheeling free-market times.